Photo: Sproule Sports Focus
Match of The Round
Broadmeadow Magic v Hamilton Olympic
6.30pm, Saturday 27th August at Darling Street Oval
Round 6: Hamilton 3 (Mooney 38’, Bird 45+1’, Bertos 70’ p) defeated Broadmeadow 1 (J.Virgili 7’) at Darling Street Oval.
Round 15: Broadmeadow 1 (Bradbury 37’) drew with Hamilton 1 (Bird 15’) at Magic Park.
Semi Final (1st Leg): Broadmeadow Magic 3 (Haynes 49’, Bradbury 82’, 90+5’) defeated Hamilton Olympic 1 (Bird 36’) at Magic Park
Where they finished: Broadmeadow 3rd (32) Hamilton 2nd (42)
Past 3 Starts (Most Recent First):
Hamilton – Lost Magic 3-1 (a), Won Blues 3-0 (a), Drew Phoenix 2-2 (h)
Broadmeadow – Won Olympic 3-1 (h), Won Magpies 2-0 (a), Lost Blues 3-2 (a)
Matches between rivals Hamilton Olympic and Broadmeadow Magic are always filled with drama and last weekend’s clash was no different. At the end of the day, it was the home side who won the big moments, with Luke Virgili’s clearance off the line right on half-time going down as the turning point in the weekend’s clash.
While leading 3-1 at the moment it will be interesting to see what kind of game plan Broadmeadow bring into the clash. A two goal lead is also a deceptive one, will Broadmeadow play to build their advantage and finish off the tie early in the clash, potentially leaving themselves vulnerable in defence? Or will they try to defend their lead, which could allow Olympic to get on a roll and rack up some goals? It will be intriguing to see.
The last two matches Olympic have played against Broadmeadow has seen the same old story for the men in blue. The inability to take their chances. In the 1-1 draw in round 15 they had enough chances at the back end of the clash to win the match and on the weekend they should have led by more at the break.
The stat that matters for the weekend is that Broadmeadow have never won a finals match at Darling Street Oval. From the three matches they have played, they have had two losses, 4-2 in 1998, 3-1 in 2012, and one draw 1-1 in 1999, which Olympic won eventually 7-6 on penalties. While a Hamilton win won’t necessarily guarantee their place in the Grand Final, they will have plenty of confidence playing at a ground where they have lost just one match of their last 21.
Broadmeadow seem to get up for these big matches when finals time comes around. Last year was no different, with Magic almost knocking out the premiership-winning Eagles after a 3-3 draw in the first leg and a 0-0 result in the second. But, the significant difference between those two matches against Edgeworth and the one last weekend against Olympic is that this weekend they come in with a lead. They are expected to get the job done holding a 3-1 advantage, so it remains to be seen how they will react to that.
With the likes of Peter Haynes, Kale Bradbury and James Virgili up front, Broadmeadow have plenty of class in the attack to go with the grit and determination of Josh Piddington at the back. They definitely have the side to go through this weekend, but playing at Hamilton can chance things up. Magic’s last win at Darling Street was in 2013 – actually their last win against Olympic since the victory on Sunday – was with Peter Haynes ‘the hero’ in a 6-5 win. Can he be the hero once more?
Shane Paul is away again this weekend, so will miss the clash, and Scott Pettit (hamstring) is a chance to return. Grant Brown (suspension) will return to boost Olympics’ backline, while Daniel Bird is in doubt with an eye injury picked up last weekend.
What the Coaches Said:
Mick Bolch (Hamilton)
“I don’t think we need to change a great deal. I think we just didn’t take our chances last weekend. We just need to be the first to score. If we do, it changes the whole tie. Realistically, there were a couple of clear-cut chances in the first half, [on the weekend] especially the one right on half-time. If that goes in it changes the whole complexion of the game. We are just trying to look at it like it’s half-time and we are down 3-1.”
“For me, they are the side under pressure, no one is expecting us to turn it around from being 3-1 down. They are all talking about them being in the Grand Final already, so we have nothing to lose. They have got everything to lose. We haven’t lost [at home] all year and have only lost once in there the last two years. We beat them earlier in the year 3-1 and beat Edgeworth 3-1. We’ve knocked over a couple of teams 5-0 and 6-0 so we do play well on that ground.”
Rob Virgili (Broadmeadow)
“We are not going to change our style of play too much, we are just going to go in the same and try to put them on the back foot. We are an attacking side so I don’t think too much will change from our side of things, maybe Olympic will need to change a bit, but we aren’t going to change. If we score one goal, they will have a fair bit of work to do. We can’t sit back and let them come at us because obviously, they can score goals as the stats show.”
“There is no pressure on us at all. They are the side that seems to be cracking under pressure, with being undefeated and not winning any trophies. There is no pressure on us at all, there is more pressure on Olympic. They have hit the wall a little bit. This game is different now, it is more in their hands what they want to do. If they want to sit back and try and get us in the second half, I’m not sure, it really depends on what Bolchy [Mick Bolch] wants to do.”
Key: Can Magic end their barren finals run at Darling Street, or will Hamilton continue their dominance at their home ground?
Edgeworth Eagles v Maitland Magpies
2pm Saturday 27th August at Jack McLaughlin Oval
Round 8: Edgeworth 3 (Trott og 12’, McBreen 34’, McLoughlin 49’) defeated Maitland 1 (B.Thompson 70’ p) at Cooks Square Park.
Round 17: Edgeworth 2 (Holz 38’, McBreen 68’) defeated Maitland 1 (L.Thornton 21’) at Jack McLaughlan Oval.
Semi Final (1st Leg): Maitland 2 (M.Thompson p 37’, Clarke 69’) drew with Edgeworth 2 (McBreen 21’, Holz 31’) at Cooks Square Park
Where they Finished: Maitland 4th (29pts) Edgeworth 1st (46)
Past 3 Starts (Most Recent First):
Edgeworth – Drew Magpies 2-2 (a), Won Rosebuds 3-1 (a), Won Magpies 2-1 (h)
Maitland – Drew Eagles 2-2 (h), Lost Magic 2-0 (h), Lost Eagles 2-1 (a)
It really is incredible how a finals match can totally change a contest. Outplayed by Edgeworth in both previous matches this season in rounds eight and 11 the Magpies found their groove in the second half at Cooks Square Park on the weekend.
Having just one draw and 15 losses in their last 16 clashes dating back to 1997 it would have been easy for the Magpies to crumble in their first finals match since 2000, and it certainly looked that way after 31 minutes when Dylan Holz smashed Edgeworth’s second goal across Matt Trott and into the left corner. But, the Magpies fought hard and were rewarded with a Ryan Clarke equaliser midway through the second half.
So, to this weekend… Edgeworth will feel confident at home given the pitch will be wider, after Maitland cunningly brought in the sidelines on Saturday and they won’t have to contend with the wind which is a common feature at Cooks Square Park. But, in saying that, Matt Comerford returns for Maitland and even though he has a broken rib it will be hard to see him not playing, given the wider pitch.
With Comerford and Clarke on opposite sides, the wider pitch may not be such a bad thing for Maitland, considering they will need to score on Saturday or their hopes of making the Grand Final for the first time in 35 years will be dashed. 1981 was the year they last played on the biggest day of the season, on that occasion going down 2-1 to Highfields Azzurri after winning their solitary top flight premiership the year before against the same side 5-1.
To Edgeworth, and a bug went through their playing squad last week, causing havoc with preparation for the match at Maitland. Pat Wheeler called up on game day to tell coach Damian Zane he was unavailable and Aaron McLoughlin and Dom Bizzarri were lethargic after also being hit by the virus. Brody Taylor also missed the match with an ankle injury. It will be interesting to see just how much of an impact the illness had on the side when they line up this weekend.
The Eagles also have an important Westfield FFA Cup tie against the Western Sydney Wanderers next Tuesday night, so it remains to be seen whether they put out their strongest side on Saturday. Damian Zane insists that his side is focusing all their attention on this Saturday’s clash.
One player Maitland will need to look out for is Daniel McBreen, he has scored in all three of the matches between the two sides this season and if the Magpies are not careful he could do so again. With the tie on a knife-edge, little moments will be crucial to a Grand Final berth.
Brody Taylor (ankle) and Pat Wheeler (illness) will return for the Eagles this weekend while Matt Comerford (rib) should return from injury for the Magpies.
What the Coaches Said:
Damian Zane (Edgeworth)
“I think the wind had a big impact on the weekend. The second goal [Maitland scored] you could give credit to the wind, but I thought the first goal we conceded was a poor one. I don’t think they had any chances till that on the weekend, and it was just a poor goal to concede. If we didn’t concede that I think we would have won 2-1 at a minimum. It was always going to be tough to score against the win, so I thought that goal for them against the wind was huge.”
“I don’t think they had a really red hot crack at us in the second half and I am sort of half happy they didn’t. Going into it I wasn’t sure how they would play. I thought they would be at the extremes, they would go really defensive or really have a crack at us, as it was their home leg. In the end personally, if I was them I would have looked back and said ‘it was 2-all and we didn’t have a red hot crack at them.’”
Reece Thompson (Maitland Assistant)
“We are happy with conceding the two sloppy goals and taking a draw in the first leg and we will look to grab a few away goals this week. We want to play a more expansive style this week. The first week was about hopefully not conceding too many, being over two legs. Unfortunately, we conceded two, but luckily we scored two and now all we have to do is win this game and we get to go to a Grand Final which would have been unthinkable two years ago.”
“A lot of people would have written us off 2-0 down early on last weekend, but I don’t think you can write off any of the Maitland boys. I’m proud of the effort but I’m not surprised and I can guarantee that anyone who gets to wear the shirt this weekend will go to the 90th minute, even if we go 1-0 down. The club will show the fight and spirit and to make the club proud.”
Key: We know Edgeworth can score goals from anywhere on the park, but can Maitland’s attack fire again to send them to a Grand Final?